INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
CENTRAL FISHERIES BOARD
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Transfer To Western Regional Fisheries Board
2. In February, 1999, the Central Fisheries Board announced its decision to transfer the care management and staff of the Galway and Erriff Fisheries to the Western Regional Fisheries Board (WRFB). This announcement was against the background of a policy decision of the Minister for the Marine and National Resources that generally the care and management of major fisheries should be transferred to the Regional Fisheries Board.
The dispute concerns the issues associated with the transfer of two fishery managers to the Western Regional Fisheries Board. In 1994, after an assessment had been carried out the two managers, who had been remunerated at the level of assistant inspector, were regraded and remunerated at the level of inspector grade.
Management proposed a revised job description in the context of the transfer. The revised job description is unacceptable to the Union. It argues that the proposed changes would radically alter the job descriptions associated with each of the posts, extending the range of duties significantly and effectively degrading the posts in the context of their reporting relationships.
Local discussions took place at which the Union sought: -
(1) Regrading to a higher level.
(2) Agreement of an appropriate allowance in respect of the financial responsibility which was sought by the Union at the time of the evaluation of the grade in 1995.
(3) Financial compensation for untaken time off in lieu.
The Union is also seeking compensation in respect of additional hours worked by the managers over the years.
The matter was the subject of a number of conciliation conferences held under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement could not be reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 11th of January, 2000, under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 9th of February, 2000. A recommendation was issued by letter on the 11th of February, 2000.
3. 1. The changes proposed would radically alter the job description associated with each of the posts, extending the range of duties and significantly increasing the level of responsibility whilst simultaneously effectively de-grading the posts in the context of their reporting relationships.
2. Clause 4 of the PCW agreement deals specifically with "The Reporting Relationship of Inspectors to Assistant Managers". The workers concerned are not inspectors. They are graded at the level of inspector, but are managers.
3. Management is wrong in its assertion that the PCW agreement envisaged the radical alteration of job descriptions as proposed.
4. These posts relate to commercially driven operations. Success requires a high degree of autonomy and flexibility to make decisions. It is now proposed to alter the agreed reporting relationships, so that the workers must report to the manager of the Western Regional Fisheries Board through the assistant manager. This will restrict decision making and inhibit effectiveness.
5. Management has shifted its position more than once during the course of the various discussions. Initially, it promoted the concept of transferring with new conditions and changed to transferring without new conditions. It is the Union's view that management is promoting radical change in the workers' conditions of employment.
6. Goodwill payments have been agreed in respect of other categories of workers involved in this transfer and the Union is seeking no less favourable treatment for the two workers concerned.
4. 1. The claimants were part of the PCW restructuring negotiations which culminated in an agreement following Labour Court Recommendation No. 16093. The agreement provided for significant retrospective payments, together with special pay increases for the Inspector grade and in return for their co-operation with a range of flexibility and change measures designed to improve organisational effectiveness and efficiency, and enhance service delivery. The claimants stand to benefit considerably from this agreement and no additional compensation should be paid to them for co-operation with the transfer.
2. Under the agreement, the claimants are expected to co-operate fully with a range of flexibility/change measures, which would embrace a reporting relationship to the WRFB assistant manager and co-operation with the flexibility of duties envisaged under the wider geographical remit.
3. The requirement for both fishery managers to report to the assistant manager on a range of operational matters and delegated functions is fundamental and of paramount importance to the successful management of the fisheries. Management's requirements are consistent with the agreement reached and endorsed by Labour Court Recommendation No. 16093. This was accepted in a ballot vote by SIPTU in which the claimants participated.
4. Management has assured the two fishery managers that they will be involved in decisions relating to both strategic and operational matters associated with the management of the fisheries. It is proposed that they will form part of the regular management meetings involving the regional manager, assistant manager and other inspectors within the Board.
5. The claimants cannot be treated more favourably than the other Inspectors within the Western Board. Indeed to do so in the manner demanded by the Union would undermine the management structure which the Board has strived to formalise and is now anxious to consolidate. Concession of the Union's claim would represent a retrograde step and would undermine the recent PCW agreement.
6. In relation to the role to be performed post transfer, management indicated that the new job descriptions were designed to include the management of the following:
(a) Galway Fishery and Claregalway River (including the Buckley Fishery)
(b) Erriff Fishery, Bunowen & Carrowiniskey Fisheries
However, management identified the following priority tasks / activities for implementation post transfer.
Galway: Management of the Claregalway River (Buckley Fishery)
Erriff: Administration of a centralised booking system for the Erriff, Bunowen and Carrowiniskey Fisheries.
The above requirements are consistent with the flexibility/change measures contained in the P.C.W. Agreements for Field Grades (including inspectors). The claimants will receive significant retrospective payments and special pay increases in return for their co-operation.
7. There is no proposed change of base from that which currently exists. Management has confirmed that its primary focus of activity will continue as is. The claimants are provided with Board transport, which will assist in their management role of other fisheries. Management would be concerned that such payments may lead to precedent setting in the Fisheries Service. No such transfers payment were made to staff involved in the transfers of the Moy Fishery to the North Western Fisheries Board.
The Court has carefully considered the submissions and oral presentations made in this case.
The Court believes that the reporting relationship as outlined in the Facilitator's report for Inspectors in October, 1998 and endorsed previously by the Labour Court, is also an appropriate reporting mechanism for the claimants. The Court recommends that the work as proposed along with the reporting arrangement should commence with immediate effect. However, the Court recommends that the Board should arrange for an independent job assessment to be carried out after 12 months from the date of acceptance of this recommendation.
On acceptance of this recommendation, the Court recommends the following:-
- payment of the retrospection due under the PCW Restructuring Agreement.
- payment of £2000 gross as a co-operation payment for acceptance of their role with the new Board.
In this case, the Court does not recommend financial compensation for untaken time off in lieu of hours worked in excess of normal hours. The responsibility for controlling such an arrangement lay both with the Board and with the managers involved. The Court is of the view that such excessive levels should not have been allowed to build up over the years.
While the Court does not recommend an hour-for-hour offset for those in a managerial role, in order to address the issue at this point the Court recommends that within the next two years, Mr S should be entitled to take an additional 10 days leave and Mr. H an additional 8 days on a once off basis. The timing of this leave is to be agreed with the Assistant Chief Executive.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
29th February, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.